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Millennium Joins Crowd in Delaying Service Until 2000

June 8, 1998
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Millennium Joins Crowd in Delaying Service Until 2000

The Millennium Pipeline project last week joined a crowd of other proposed pipelines and expansions that are being delayed for market or regulatory reasons. The announcement makes it even more likely the widespread market impacts expected from increases in pipeline links between western Canada and the midwestern and northeastern U.S. probably won't be felt until winter 2000-2001.

Millennium officials said its shippers requested service be delayed until November 2000 to give the market and the upstream supply community time to prepare for greater transportation capacity and to give the project more time to crawl through the regulatory process.

Millennium informed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the revised project schedule, which calls for some portions of the 442-mile pipeline roughly between Lake Erie and New York City to be constructed in 1999 with the balance built the following year.

It joins the Independence Pipeline and MarketLink projects, Millennium competitors, and the Alliance Pipeline. Another major project, Viking Voyageur, dropped out of the picture in April. Millennium's reasons for the delay appear to be similar to those of Independence and MarketLink. The shippers on those projects are primarily large marketing firms.

A spokesman indicated Millennium's nine shippers, who are mainly pipeline affiliated marketers (Engage, TransCanada and Columbia are the largest capacity holders) requested the delay in part to give the market more time to develop and to give upstream supply providers more time to prepare. Millennium plans to file revised shipper agreements soon with FERC.

"Our shippers have indicated that a Nov. 1, 2000 in-service date will meet their objectives to provide economically priced supplies of natural gas to customers in the East," said Millennium Project Manager David Pentzien. "The schedule also provides flexibility for Millennium to schedule construction activities during optimal periods from summer 1999 through fall of 2000."

The pipeline company, a partnership of Columbia Gas, TransCanada PipeLines, MCN Energy and Westcoast Energy, originally requested a preliminary determination on non-environmental grounds (PD) on the project from FERC by May. But a spokesman said FERC's delay on the PD played no role in this decision. The pipeline company now is requesting a PD by September with final FERC approval by April 30, 1999.

The $650 million pipeline project is designed to transport 700 MMcf/d of gas from a connection with TransCanada PipeLines in the middle of Lake Erie to a connection with Consolidated Edison in Westchester County, NY. Nearly 90% of its route is to be built in existing rights of way.

Rocco Canonica

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